So, why do I love life in Alaska so much? It isn't just the magnificent setting, the outdoor activities or the wide open spaces. Sometimes, just sometimes, it is also the law. Like yesterday when the Court of Appeals ruled in State v. Brown, which can be found here: http://www.state.ak.us/courts/ops/ap-2157.pdf. When I lived in California, the courts and the legislature (at the urging of the people) were as busy as possible restricting the rights of the people. It was just awful. For example, in California one can never have more rights than those guaranteed by the federal constitution. The law is exactly the opposite in Alaska. The federal constitution is the floor on rights. So yesterday the court ruled on consent searches. It is beautiful. Based on the facts in that case the Court ruled that "the officer conducting the traffic stop was prohibited from requesting Brown’s permission to conduct a search that was (1) unrelated to the basis for the stop and (2) not otherwise supported by a reasonable suspicion of criminality." Those of you who are criminal lawyers may get tears when you read that. I can tell you that every criminal lawyer I know in Alaska was talking about this case yesterday. Somehow, just for a moment, our job seemed less hopeless. Those of you who live in Alaska should breath a sigh of relief that the Court is still sometimes capable of protecting your rights. Those of you who live Outside. Well. You're screwed.

Comments

Amen to that. Chalk one up for the good guys.
Anonymous said…
If the guy had something illegal in his car (like kiddie porn), why would we want to protect him? It's the people with something to hide that rejoice in some criminal getting off because of a violation of his "rights". How about my "rights" not to have pedophile running around my child's playground because of their "rights"??? Ever think of that any of you????

Nan & Grant
Anonymous said…
Wow Nan and Grant! I had never thought of that! You just never know who might have Kiddie porn laying around, or drugs, or pillows with the tag removed. I don't understand why we just don't search everybody, everywhere and at any time - because you know that stuff is easy to hide and if we tell people we're going to search them they might hide it away. Never mind if it's the police rummaging through Nan's panty drawer while she stands next to her bed in the middle of the night naked with a spotlight on her - what does she have to hide anyway? Nothing, I know good folk like you wouldn't have any kiddie porn so let the police do their job and get on their way with it. In fact, in pursuit of enforcing our rights to be free from these creeps, I want to table a motion to allow the police to take a look in your ass, Grant, if they think you look like a shady fellow - you've got nothing to hide up their right? Don't worry I'll be happy to be right there with you, spreading my cheeks to keep away the creeps.
Amen and thanks for your post!
todd said…
I don't think there is a right not to have a pedophile running around playgrounds. There are laws to remove the right for pedophiles to run around playgrounds, though, and rightly so if they are being properly enforced. This new law sounds like a good one. It is still not going to be that hard for police to search cars if they have some reason to (or, sadly, make one up later). I don't think roadside searches turn up much child pornography. What this law is going to do is limit the focus of police on minority groups or others who might feel the disparate impact of law enforcement. I imagine this law is a prophylactic protection of our fourth and fourteenth amendment rights.
todd said…
Whoops. After looking at the post and opinion, I see it isn't a law at all, but PDLA points out, a reading of the Alaskan constitution.
Kansas Public Defender said…
Is this case by the highest court in Alaska?
Anonymous said…
Anonymous,
You probably would let Osama bin Laden on a plane with a bulging jacket because it would be rude to search him... oh yeah, not rude but a violation of his "rights". I for one love the secure feeling I have on a plane now that greater security is in force. I just wish I felt that security driving around and walking around with my kids. Unfortunately the "rights" of the pedophiles, drug dealers, and gun-toting criminals might be harmed if we took away their kiddie porn, drugs, and guns. What a shame that would be.

Nan & Grant
Kansas, no it from the COA. It is a 25 page decision which I think was done in case the State petitions for review. That could be risky for the State. Nan and Grant: STAY THE HELL OUT OF ALASKA!!
Anonymous said…
The dumb-ass could have said "no" when the cop asked for permission to search the car. Why would anyone that is not a criminal want criminals to do crime and get away with it? Public Defenders are there to defend our rights (thank God for that), not to shield bad guys from the law so they can prey on us.
Phil........
fdr said…
This freedom loving cop likes the decision. I live in the People's republic of New York.

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